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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Innovation at the Core of Healthcare Reform

CEIBS 13th Annual China Healthcare Forum 2017

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May 13, 2017. Shanghai – There were nearly eight billion medical visits in China last year as universal medical insurance coverage makes healthcare more affordable and accessible. Even more gains are expected from on-going reforms to the healthcare sector, and innovation is expected to play a major role. But any improvements made will have to be balanced with the unique needs of the sector – and all its stakeholders.

“This huge and complex national project is being pushed forward with a strong focus on institutional innovations in the country’s healthcare systems – especially a well-coordinated synergy between medical insurance, medical services, and the pharmaceutical industry, which is indispensable to the eventual success of the reform,” said CEIBS President Li Mingjun. He was giving the welcome address at CEIBS 13th Annual China Healthcare Forum 2017, held today at the school’s Shanghai campus.

The event brought together policymakers, scholars and industry leaders who offered their insights on how medical insurance providers, hospitals and other medical services providers as well as the pharmaceutical industry can work together to tackle the challenges ahead during the reform. Among those who shared suggestions on how to improve China’s medical insurance system was Special Research Fellow at the Counsellors’ Office of the State Council, President of China Health Insurance Research Association and former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Mr. Wang Dongjin. He began by outlining how medical insurance has contributed to China’s national health development since its design and implementation began in the mid-1990s. “We have grown from what was then called ‘medical insurance for urban workers’, benefiting only some 30 million people, to today’s ‘universal health insurance’ covering about 95% of the whole Chinese population, which is three times the size of Europe or the US,” said the former minister. “Thanks to universal medical insurance coverage, medical services have been much more affordable and people’s access to medical services has been largely facilitated. Last year, patients in China made nearly eight billion visits, more than six times per capita, a record equivalent to the EU.”

Any innovations made to the country’s medical insurance, Mr. Wang stressed, must ensure the sustainability of the medical insurance fund, which is the core of any country’s healthcare system. There have long been calls for an increase in the reimbursement rate, but any increase needs to be in line with the country’s economic development, he said. Noting that in addition to national medical insurance, there are other healthcare financing solutions available (complementary insurance, civil servant allowances, special disease guarantee mechanism, charitable aid), he suggested that a system should be established between the various parties involved, to constantly perfect medical insurance coverage. Coverage, he stressed, was a “bread-and-butter” issue at the national level, as it directly impacts the lives of so many ordinary people.

As with all major issues that impact the lives of China’s citizens, healthcare reform is included in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan. During today’s forum, Commissioner at the Department of Healthcare Reform of National Health and Family Planning Commission, Mr. Yao Jianhong focused on how to deepen healthcare reform during the period, which ends in 2020. This, he said, would be implemented through “5 systems” and would include:

  • Setting up a hierarchical medical system to improve medical services at county- and township-level health centres, especially in less-developed areas;
  • Modernising the medical management system to better allocate regulatory powers between various institutions;
  • Making innovations in the existing universal medical insurance system to boost its efficiency;
  • Standardising the drug supply system to better supervise the pharmaceutical market; and
  • Establishing a comprehensive supervision system covering every aspect of China’s healthcare sector.

Other hot topics in China’s medical reform such as how to innovate in order to enhance hospital management efficiency and how to reform China’s medicine policies to create value through innovation were the subjects of panel discussions in the afternoon.

CEIBS President, Chengwei Ventures Chair Professor of Entrepreneurship Pedro Nueno delivered the event’s closing speech while Director at CEIBS Centre for Healthcare Management and Policy Professor John Cai thanked the lead sponsor, Eli Lilly and Company, for their support to the forum.

Writer: 
David Yu
Editor: 
Charmaine N. Clarke